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News in Brief

Candidate drops out of Basalt council raceReal estate broker Mark Kwiecienski withdrew as a candidate for a seat on the Basalt Town Council last week, leaving five candidates to vie for three open seats.The remaining candidates are Garret Brandt, Amy Capron, Chris Seldin, Gary Tennenbaum and Joe Zuena.The Basalt Chamber of Commerce The Aspen Times are sponsoring a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Basalt Middle School Auditorium.Basalt’s municipal election will be April 4; the polling place will be Basalt Town Hall at Lions Park.City OKs Smuggler Mountain purchaseThe Aspen City Council on Monday night unanimously approved the $3.4 million purchase of 24 acres of open space land on Smuggler Mountain.The city bought the land from Tulasi Wilkinson in a deal that took 13 months to complete.The deal follows the city and Pitkin County’s purchase of 170 acres on Smuggler in December. Smuggler Mountain provides access to the scenic Hunter Creek Valley, popular for its hiking and biking trails.A half-cent sales tax increase Aspen voters approved in 2000 funded the open space acquisition. For tax reasons, the parcel will not actually pass into Aspen’s possession until 2007.Police arrest man in alleged purse-snatchingPolice say a Carbondale man was drunk when he allegedly stole a purse inside Bar Aspen.Now Joshua Hoeppner, 27, faces charges of felony theft, $500 to $15,000.Officers responded to the nightclub a little before midnight Friday and found the bar’s owner standing with the suspect. The man said Hoeppner had stolen a purse.”Hoeppner denied any knowledge of the incident but said that ‘some old lady was on my back’ and that he had picked up a purse from the stairs,” a police report says.Other officers talked with the alleged victim, who backed up the bar owner’s story. The victim said it was a $500 Louis Vuitton purse that contained prescription glasses valued at $200, $100 in makeup and $50 in cash.Hoeppner blew a 0.22 on a portable alcohol breath test, the report says.He was taken to jail without incident. After being booked into jail, Hoeppner fell “soundly asleep on the floor of the cell, so I did not advise him of his bond amount,” the police report says.He was freed over the weekend after posting a $5,000 bond.Eagle County Democratic caucus setThe Eagle County Democratic Party caucus will be March 21 in the Sopris Room of the Eagle County Building in El Jebel.The county building is next to the tree farm, off Highway 82 across from Wendy’s. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will break into their respective precincts at 7 p.m. The precincts are 7, 8, 24 and 25. The election of delegates to the county assembly is on the agenda. The coming election year includes contests for Colorado governor, the secretary of state, Eagle County commissioners and other Eagle County offices.Call Harvey Branscomb, Eagle County Democratic Party chairman, at 963-1369 for more information.


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